Rise of Australian Fashion: Influential Designers and Style Icons

Fashion has been shaped, altered, and revamped from ancient Egypt to Australia. Fashion is a higher form of self-expression, considering both the self and others. Australian designers emerge from the depths of the human condition, displaying needs and quirks while altering the social construct. To seek inspiration, let us delve into the history of Australian fashion and its style icons.

Influential Designers in Australian Fashion

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within,” words by the great Dr. Maya Angelou; the journey begins with four names whose light shined and transformed the silhouette of fashion.

A. Collette Dinnigan

In 1956, Colette was born in the mother continent and later relocated to New Zealand. She graduated from Wellington, and her career blossomed in 1995 when she launched her prêt-a-porter collection in Paris. Her style was unconventional, deviating from the norm and inspired by the extraordinary. Nomadic, bohemian, and timeless, she revolutionized the use of fabrics. One of her notable shows, “Unlaced,” took place at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney. It was the first exhibition to showcase Australian designers.

B. Carla Zampatti

A child of Italy, Carla Zampatti, moved to Western Australia in 1950. She later relocated to Sydney, where, in her twenties, she designed her first small collection in 1965. Within two years, her collection was launched worldwide, and Pty Ltd was established in 1970. Her designs were intended to be a go-to lifestyle fashion for women. Recognizing the inconvenience of finicky openings, she created metal zips, and her work became known for its day-to-night jumpsuits.

Seeking to reshape the industry, Zampatti aimed to make fashion inclusive and diverse in terms of shape. She dedicated her work to empowering women in the workforce. Fostering talent, she launched a scholarship that funds young designers to study fashion under the Carla Zampatti Foundation Design Award.

C. Dion Lee

Emerged as a prominent designer with his self-titled brand at 23, he debuted his designs at the Australian Fashion Week in 2009 and was the first designer to have a runway show at the Sydney Opera House in 2010.

In 2022, he announced his collaboration with Grimes in the Dion Lee Spring Summer campaign. The theme was pale magical ice landscapes with cyber-fictional architecture, and the heroine was photographed in collaboration with Art Director Henry Thomas Lloyd and CGI artist Rodolfo Hernandez by Bryan Huynh. He gained national fandom and recognition with his first presentation at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2009; the designs were anatomical yet fluid, showcasing a modern aesthetic.

D. Zimmermann

In Sydney in 1991, the sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann founded their self-titled label known for its resort wear. Their designs are sophisticated, feminine, and vibrant in color. They have established prints that are exclusive to Zimmermann. They also designed a one-piece swimsuit and later introduced sculptural bikinis, redefining swimwear. The brand soon became international by opening its first store in the US and launching several diffusion labels, including ZIMMERMANN Swim, Kids, and Accessories brands.

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Style Icons in Australian Fashion

Credit is due to Australia for introducing Australian fashion and then Australian models; here are a few among the many wonderful icons.

Elle Macpherson

In Aspen, at 18, Elle Macpherson was discovered skiing in Colorado. Six feet tall, her sport-sculpted figure gave her a modeling career and international success. “The Body” was a namesake for Elle Macpherson in the fashion community, and she held a record of five Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues in the 1980s.

With the help of CEO Horwood and nutritional therapist Dr. Simone Laubscher, she launched WelleCo, inspired by her eating regime. The company aimed to offer consumers plant-based, ingestible beauty products and dietary supplements with doctors’ consultations.

Miranda Kerr

The first Australian to participate in Victoria’s Secret campaign, the Angel represents many fashion chains, including the Australian chains Portman’s and David Jones Limited. She began her collaboration journey with Mother in an Audrey Hepburn-inspired collection. Kerr kept a $138 heart-embroidered cropped sweatshirt, a favorite from the 12-piece collection. Seafolly, a famous Australian swimwear brand, named Kerr their brand ambassador.

Cate Blanchett

Classy and whimsical, Cate has always transformed fashion by wearing single pieces embodying eccentricity, boldness, and class. The icon brings femininity to a fem-suit that shatters the definition of red carpet looks. Not afraid to wear the same outfit, Blanchett introduced sustainability to fashion by simply being the queen of the red carpet. She has worn Esse and E Nolan, which support the green cause and use sustainable materials.

The Impact and Future of Australian Fashion

Although Sydney may be the prominent highlight when mentioning the land down under, Melbourne rises to the occasion as one of Australia’s most creative capitals. This bustling, vibrant city is often referred to as the fashion capital of Australia.

With the popularity of social media platforms, it’s no wonder that Australian fashion has become accessible to the world. Actresses and models like Teresa Palmer, Elle Macpherson, and Kerr showcase their fashion inspirations through Instagram posts, red-carpet reviews, and snap videos on Facebook. Nevertheless, the Australian fashion industry is driven by sustainability and ethical practices. They are conscious of their materials, public opinion, and consumer preferences.

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